The Toronto Furies have announced that Courtney Kessel will be the team’s head coach for the 2018-19 CWHL season. Kessel is replacing Jeff Flanagan, who was a first year coach for the Furies last season. Flanagan’s team finished the 2017-18 season with a record of 9-17-1-1
“I am really excited to join the Furies organization,” Kessel shared in the league’s press release. “It’s an amazing opportunity to be back in the CWHL, a league that provided me so many opportunities as a player.”
Kessel (nee Birchard) played five seasons in the CWHL with the Brampton Thunder as both a defender and forward. She was the CWHL Rookie of the Year in 2012. Last season Kessel split the year between Ice Dream Kosice (Slovakia) and Linköping HC (SDHL). She also recently retired from Canada’s national team program. Kessel earned three medals with Team Canada as a player at the Women’s World Championship.
Although Kessel’s playing career has just ended, she already has substantial coaching experience. Last year she coached Canada’s U-22 Development team and was head coach at Havergal College in Toronto (an independent boarding school). She also has experience as a skills instructor.
The Furies also announced today that Ken Dufton is joining the team in an advisory role. Dufton is an important and influential builder in the world of women’s hockey. A former head coach of Team Canada, Dufton was a founding member of the Toronto Aeros organization; which has produced an abundance of talented players, including Kessel.
New Furies’ general manager Sami Jo Small has done an exceptional job building her team off the ice this offseason. All eyes are now on what Toronto does in the upcoming CWHL Draft. Will all of these changes behind the bench and in the front office translate to a more successful Furies team? We will soon find out.
In other CWHL news today, the Calgary Inferno signed star defender Halli Krzyzaniak who was one of Team Canada’s final cuts before the 2018 Olympics. Krzyzaniak played for Djurgårdens IF last year after spending the majority of the season in residency. She’s the fourth big name to sign with Calgary this offseason, joining Brianna Decker, Zoe Hickel, and Kacey Bellamy.